[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Tuesday's Person of Interest finale. Read at your own risk.]
Person of Interest's Season 4 finale featured several deaths, but it was the life that was saved that mattered most.
After the Machine gave up its location to rival AI Samaritan to save the lives of Finch (Michael Emerson) and Root (Amy Acker) in the penultimate episode, Team Machine had to locate "her" before Samaritan did. However, once they learned that the Machine had uploaded itself into the nation's power lines, it was a race against the clock to save the Machine before Samaritan flooded the power grid and destroyed the Machine completely.
Meanwhile, Control (guest star Camryn Manheim) went to great lengths to stop Greer (John Nolan) from carrying out Samaritan's "correction." However, Control quickly learned that Samaritan hadn't planned a massive attack, but rather the assassination of a few choice "disrupters" and "outliers" — namely Elisas (Enrico Colantoni), Dominic (Winston Duke) and several of Control's team — before Greer had Control apprehended and led to an uncertain, but presumably unpleasant, fate.
As the Machine was dying, it had a heartfelt moment with Finch, thanking him for creating the Machine and apologizing for letting Finch down. However, Finch & Co. were able to download enough of the Machine into Finch's bulletproof briefcase full of memory to save it from being lost forever and to rebuild it — assuming Finch, Root and Reese (Jim Caviezel) are able to get past Samaritan's operatives.
But, since the show has yet to be renewed, will Finch even get the chance to rebuild the Machine? TVGuide.com chatted with executive producers Jonathan Nolanand Greg Plageman about the show's future, Samaritan's temporary win and when we'll see Shaw (Sarah Shahi) again.
What was the most important aspect of the finale for you?
Greg Plageman: We've always talked about this season as the cold war, on a couple fronts. It was obviously Samaritan and Machine that were in conflict, but the background conflict was Dominic attempting to usurp Elias, and we felt like this was a great opportunity for all of those worlds to collide. Now it becomes about, after we witnessed "the correction," what exactly is Samaritan's plan and how it goes about doing things. We think that really sets this up in a unique way to tell some fantastic stories next season.
How are we supposed to feel about Samaritan at this point? Obviously, it's the "bad guy," but in this case it took out Elias and Dominic for good reason. Is Samaritan maybe not as bad as we thought?
Jonathan Nolan: We have always tried to build villains who have a point of view. Samaritan is an artificial intelligence that has set about to make the world a better place, but it does not have the same careful, cautious training, grounding, ethos that Finch built into the Machine. So, what you see here is a very smart, very sophisticated, very calculating attempt to make the world a better place in a way that cannot be traced back to its origin, or even necessarily apprehended.
The problem, of course, is kind of a devil's bargain. It's coming for Elias and Dominic, and it's sort of found our heroes in the slightly awkward position of, "Well, you've been working with Elias." It would be easy to imagine a situation where Samaritan says to the Machine, or to Finch, "How did you wind up being friends with Elias?" Samaritan takes a fresh look at that and says, "You've lost your way," which is exactly what the Machine is saying to Finch at the end of the season here. Did we lose our way? I think next season we'll get into that question of how is Samaritan making these decisions. Who is it labeling good or bad? The terms that it's using to identify people who are considered disruptive, and there are a lot of people who think disruption is a good thing. So, it's a world next season that we'll be stepping into that by a lot of appearances may seem like a utopian kind of world. And then the question would be, would you be wiling to make that bargain?
If Finch is indeed going to rebuild the Machine, might he take some lessons he's learned from Samaritan?
Plageman: That's a great question. The portable machine: What is Finch going to do with it? I think it's also fertile ground for further debate between Harold Finch and Root's characters in terms of what reconstituting the Machine looks like and the capabilities that it has.
Is Finch back on board with the Machine after that conversation in the finale?
Plageman: We've had the ongoing debates between Harold's character and Root this year in terms of her unquestioning faith in the Machine and him warning her about the perils of that, but I think what we're seeing in the finale is clearly the humanity of the Machine. There's a moment when the Machine is dying and it reaches out to its father, its creator, and wonders in no uncertain terms if it failed him. It is a touching moment, and I think it's a moment that really resonates with Harold in terms of what he believes his Machine's purpose is going forward, and whether or not it's something that he can use or refashion in a way that allows him to combat Samaritan next season.
Elias and Dominic's fate seemed pretty clear, while Control's future seems to be in question. What can you say about those characters' futures on the show?
Nolan: Well, we always claim that unless you see the body, presume nothing. That said, a corollary to that would be when you produce as many bodies as we have over the course of the last two episodes, there literally isn't time to show all of those bodies. So, I would take it at face value. Samaritan is not known for its temperance with regards to taking of life, so I don't think things are looking very good for any of the people you just mentioned. But, hey, everybody comes back in flashback.
Speaking of living and dying, Reese, Finch and Root seemed outgunned against Samaritan's operatives. Since the show isn't officially renewed yet, was it important to leave it with our heroes fighting on despite the odds?
Plageman: No, we're not gonna leave it there. Harold's got a lot of tinkering to do.
Nolan: It's definitely a desperate moment. This is absolutely the low point. We're definitely going to have some bad stuff happen to these characters because we just love doing that, but in terms of their fight against Samaritan, it's hard to imagine they'd get any lower than this point. The Machine is now basically dead — a piece of its DNA is preserved in a briefcase that they will have to carry out of effectively a war zone. The one thing we do know is that their cover stories probably haven't been blown. The blind spot that Samaritan has towards them, it has not managed to fix yet. So, if they can get back to their lives, they will have a place to hide and they'll have a fragment of their god in a briefcase. They've got their work cut out for them in a big way. Yes, Samaritan won, but the thing about the low point is there's only one place to go. But that path back up can be a very difficult one.
We got a peek at Shaw in the penultimate episode. Will she be back next season?
Nolan: Shaw's out there. What's happened to her remains a mystery that we're going to plunge into next season. We're very, very excited about picking up that story where we left off next season.
But again, next season at this point is still an uncertainty. How confident are you that there will be a Season 5?
Nolan: CBS had a great problem, which is they have a lot of really popular shows, and they're figuring that out on their end. From our perspective and from all the conversations we've had, we're feeling very good about continuing to tell our story.
What did you think of the finale? Do you want another season?
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